4 Meeting of Ad Hoc Task Force on Portugal

Canberra, 3 May 1974

CONFIDENTIAL

Participants

Mr F. B. Cooper(Chairman)Head, Europe, Central and Southern Africa Branch
Mr R. J. GreetHead, West Europe Section
Mr R. M. NorthHead, Central and Southern Africa Section
Mr J. M. C. WatsonHead, Defence Plans and Policy Section
Mr A. J. MelhuishHead, UN Political Section
Mr G. L. LawlessHead, Trade Sub-Section, E.P. Branch
Mr G. C. EvansPolicy Planning Section
Mr I. WilleMalaysia, Singapore, Philippines Section
Miss S. Boyd (Rapporteur)West Europe Section
  1. Summary Record
    Mr Cooper convened the meeting of the ad hoc task force on Portugal to enable a preliminary consideration to be given to all aspects of Australia's relations with Portugal and its Overseas Territories in the light of the coup and its aftermath. He noted that Australia's bilateral relations with Portugal were of relatively little importance and that the real interest of the coup would be in its effects on Portugal's colonial policy. The following is a summary of the conclusions reached from the discussion.
    [matter omitted]
  1. Portuguese Timor
    The Policy Planning Paper on Portuguese Timor1 was considered. It was thought that the logical long term prospect for the economically non-viable territory was integration with Indonesia, under United Nations auspices in the first instance. The need to take Indonesia's attitudes to Timor into account was noted. The meeting also considered the possibility of UN Trusteeship for the Territory but this was not regarded as a viable solution in this day and age.
  2. If current oil searches proved successful, the economic situation in Timor might improve but there appeared at present to be no indigenous movement capable of providing an alternative to the Portuguese. Australia has some civil aviation and business interests there, but should beware of possible criticism of an attitude favouring the union of Timor with Indonesia lest it appear that prospects for the settlement of our sea-bed territory (and oil rights) dispute with the Portuguese were colouring our attitude.
    [matter omitted]

[NAA: A1838, 696/5, ii]